Dockers demonstrate in Brussels (Photo:


The trade unions can stop the work - strike - to obtain higher wages or exert pressure on companies to sign a collective agreement on wages or working conditions. Other parts of the trade unions can support the strike with sympathy actions or blockades.

In the Vaxholm-Laval-case from 2007 the trade unions' rights to industrial action is recognised but strikes and blockades are not allowed to disturb the free movement of goods, services and capital if the official minimum pay is paid.

Discriminatory practice of the trade unions' treatment of domestic and foreign-owned is not allowed unless it is justified in "only on grounds of public policy, public security or public health". This is stipulated in the 18.12.07 judgment.

In the Vaxholm case a union conflict from the Swedish trade unions against a Latvian construction company was declared illegal. With this decision and the one in the Viking case from 11 December 2007 the European Court has nominated itself to the highest labour court in the Union even though strikes are specifically exempted from European competences in the treaty.

In 2008, the EU Court continued its efforts to give primacy to the free movement of services against protection of workers. In the Rüffert case, public authorities lost the right to require normal salaries in public tenders.

The Lisbon Treaty opens for the establishment of a special Union labour court by qualified majority voting in the Council.




See also Social policy and the Vaxholm case